MFTs Show Signs of Shifts Away from PhD

By Communications

In the first half of 2022, AAMFT conducted an industry workforce study to examine the shifts related to COVID-19, their short- and longer-term impacts, and what challenges and opportunities are facing the field. In each issue of Family Therap-eNews, we examine a data point from this report.

To download the full report, visit

In 2012, when AAMFT last surveyed the field on the topic, a concern that emerged was student respondents indicating they planned on pursuing a doctoral degree (<12%) was significantly less than the 33% at the clinical level that indicated at that time that they held a doctoral degree. In 2022, this data point continued to shift with only 20% of respondents indicating they held a doctoral degree.

In some ways, this shift is not surprising since financing the cost of education was ranked as a top frustration in the 2022 workforce study in becoming an MFT, cited as the number one challenge by over 53% of respondents under 40. However, it does amplify the concern initially identified in 2012; if less of the industry is pursuing doctoral degrees, how does this impact the research and education in marriage and family therapy? Are MFTs leaving the profession open to be defined and grown by other disciplines who may lack their unique training and expertise?

While AAMFT can do little regarding the cost of education, it is taking steps to boost the profession’s ability to conduct research. For example, in 2020 AAMFT launched the Intervention Research in Systemic Family Therapy topical interest network. Since its inception, the Network has held two research conferences, including one last month.

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